JERSEY CITY, New Jersey: World No. 1 Tiger Woods launches his bid for a third US PGA playoff title and the $10 million bonus that comes with it, starting Thursday (Friday in Manila) at The Barclays.
Woods has five triumphs this season and tops the money list, once the ultimate sign of season success on the US circuit, with $7.6 million.
While it has not included a major victory, the season has been a solid one for the 14-time major champion, including wins at the World Golf Championship events at Doral and Firestone plus PGA events at Torrey Pines and Bay Hill and the Players Championship.
“By my standard, it has been a great year,” Woods said. “To win at two of my favorite venues and two World Golf Championships in there and the Players, it’s pretty good.”
Woods won the inaugural 2007 playoff crown and took the title again in 2009 after missing the 2008 playoffs with a knee injury.
Woods tees off Thursday morning alongside his two nearest rivals in playoff points, fellow Americans Matt Kuchar and Brandt Snedeker with British Open winner Phil Mickelson in fourth making an afternoon start.
Under the playoff format, the top 125 players in season points will begin play this week at Liberty National in the first of four consecutive $8 million tournaments.
The top 100 players will advance to next week’s Deutsche Bank Championship near Boston with the top 60 after that event reaching the BMW Championship near Chicago in three weeks.
The top 30 after that advance to the Tour Championship near Atlanta September 19-22 where a playoff champion will be crowned. Any player among the top five in points entering the final event will win the crown by winning the title.
“You’re basically playing for the top five positions going into the Tour Championship and then to win it and ensure you will win the playoffs,” Woods said. “You’re just playing for a position in the top five.”
That could allow for a player with plenty of points, such as Woods, to skip an event and still be in the hunt for the title. Woods said he had a light practice Wednesday due to a sore back.
“My neck and back are a little bit stiff,” Woods said. “It’s one of those things. Hotel beds.”
Woods has 79 career US PGA titles, three shy of Sam Snead’s all-time record, but not since taking his 14th major crown at the 2008 US Open has Woods closed the gap on the all-time record of 18 majors held by Jack Nicklaus.
“I’m second on both all-time lists. That’s not bad at my age,” said Woods, who turns 38 in December. “Both of those guys took a lot longer to do it than I have.”
Asked about his chances of topping both lists by the end of his career, Woods said, “As long as I keep winning in all those years, it’s not too bad.”
“I never thought I would get here this quick,” Woods said. “Winning five or more tournaments for 10 (different) years, that’s one of those stats I’m most proud of and this is one of those years.”
Woods, who has never won the Barclays in seven tries, said he does not consider himself a huge favorite for Player of the Year honors from his fellow players.
“That’s something that comes from the players,” he said. “Any time you get something from your peers, it means a lot.”
For now, Woods is focused on things he can control, like winning the playoff crown.
“Any time you can add up and have the most points at the end of the year, it’s a pretty good year,” Woods said.